Thorac Cardiovasc Surg
DOI: 10.1055/s-0040-1708871
Letter to the Editor
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Access to Cardiac Surgery Services in Sub-Saharan Africa: Quo Vadis?

1  Department of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, German Heart Centre, Berlin, Germany
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

19 January 2020

06 February 2020

Publication Date:
30 April 2020 (online)

The importance and the growing concern about limited or no access to cardiac surgery has raised challenges in conceptual solutions which need to be addressed and acted upon.

Millions of children and adults with congenital and rheumatic heart diseases (CHD and RHD, respectively) in LMICs are deprived of a basic human right to have access to cardiology care and cardiac surgery in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) due to financial constraints, poverty and lack of reliable facilities within their country.[1]

Over the past 50 years, charity heart teams have responded to the emergency calls to provide cardiac surgery; yet, they have impacted less than 2% of children with CHD and RHD in SSA.[1] The efforts that these teams make in advancing congenital and rheumatic heart surgery services to underserved pediatric population are well recognized and highly appreciated. Intercultural challenges were not critical issues, but the missions did not significantly impact on the cardiovascular health care agenda in some LMICs of SSA. They also did not meet the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations of accomplishing a target level of 400 open heart surgeries (OHS) per 1 million population. Pan-African Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery (PASCaTS) is encouraging existing centers to try and achieve at least 40 OHS per million people.